People smugglers take migrants on short boat trips from Turkey's Aegean coastline to nearby Greek islands. In some places, the distance between despair and hope for a new life in Europe can be just 25km.

"I have never sailed a diesel engine boat before but I have to sail it tomorrow," people smuggler, Abu Sharif, tells Al Jazeera as he himself prepares to take the perilous journey to Europe. "I've never sailed out this deep."

Sharif, who is from Syria, made quick money from human smuggling but has decided to quit the profession.

"When I send you out to sea you'll either make it or you won't. Either way I'll make my money," he said.

He is just one of hundreds cashing in on Turkey's massive refugee population - the majority Syrian.

Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith interviewed Sharif in Istanbul before he himself made the trip to the Greek island of Lesbos.

Source: Al Jazeera